Baxter teen with Down syndrome to light up NYC Times Square

Sarah Meyer, 13, of Baxter will appear on the big screens of New York City’s Times Square on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 17, as part of the annual National Down Syndrome Society video presentation that will also be livestreamed. Her family will be at the iconic tourist attraction, too.

A girl runs on a beach with her arms in the air in front of a sunset
Sarah Meyer of Baxter smiles while running on the beach at sunset during her spring vacation in 2022 in Panama City Beach, Florida.

BAXTER — Sarah Meyer of Baxter has a larger-than-life personality, according to her mom.

“Sarah is very outgoing,” Carol Meyer said Wednesday, Sept. 14. “She's very social. And she's just a really enthusiastic person and she just loves everything in life.”

Perhaps it’s only fitting then for the 13-year-old with Down syndrome to appear on two Jumbotron screens in New York City’s famed Times Square sometime between 9 a.m. to 9:10 a.m. Central Time Saturday.

She was selected in a photo contest to help kick off Down Syndrome Awareness Month. She will be in the annual National Down Syndrome Society video presentation in the Big Apple.

“I've never submitted a photo before and just thought I would do it this time just to see what would happen,” Meyer said. “I thought I had a good picture of her.”


The teen is smiling in the winning photo and is shown enjoying the beach at sunset in Panama City Beach, Florida, while on her spring vacation earlier this year.

“It captures the fun and excitement of being at the beach and is a great example of how people with all abilities embrace life,” according to a news release about the middle school student.

Her photo was selected from more than 2,400 entries in the National Down Syndrome Society’s worldwide call for photos for Saturday’s video presentation.

“We were all very excited. And we were pretty shocked,” Meyer said of learning her daughter was selected to be in Saturday’s video presentation.

The video presentation will be shown on two large screens above Dos Caminos, a Mexican restaurant in Father Duffy Square, which is in the northern triangle of Times Square.

“She has been telling everybody for the past two weeks that she's going to New York City and that she's going to be up on a big screen,” Meyer said. “She loves to travel so she's very excited that she gets to go on a plane and to go to a big city.”

The video presentation will also be livestreamed 8:30-9:30 a.m. Central Time on the National Down Syndrome Society's Facebook page at .

The one-hour video of roughly 500 photographs includes children, teens and adults with Down syndrome from all 50 states.


Down syndrome is a condition in which a person is born with an extra chromosome, causing mild to moderate cognitive disability, developmental delays and physical challenges.

“These collective images promote the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome in a very visible way,” according to the news release about the video presentation.

The eighth grader from Forestview Middle School and her family planned to fly Thursday, Sept. 15, to the iconic tourist destination where people go to ring in the new year.

“Our first reaction was ‘Should we go or not?’” Meyer said of her family of five. “And initially, we weren't going to go and then we changed our mind and decided it was really kind of one of those once-in-a-lifetime things you would regret if you never did that.”

The cheerleader’s family now plans to be with her in Times Square to view her live on the Jumbotron screens and will join the ensuing New York City Buddy Walk in Central Park.

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“We also have a team that we created as a family that's called ‘Sarah's Extra Steppers,’” Meyer said.

The National Buddy Walk Program is “the premier Down syndrome awareness, advocacy and peer-to-peer fundraising program in the world,” according to the National Down Syndrome Society website at .

There are roughly 150 Buddy Walk events that take place in cities across the country and in select international locations.


“NDSS envisions a world in which all people with Down syndrome have the opportunity to enhance their quality of life, realize their life aspirations and become valued members of welcoming communities,” according to the news release.

The National Buddy Walk Program was created by the society to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome and to raise funds for local and national incentives to support the Down syndrome community.

“Cognitively, she’s like about a 5- or 6-year-old,” Meyer said of her daughter with Down syndrome. “But I think the biggest thing people should just realize is that they love to do stuff just like anybody else.”

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at . Follow him on Twitter at .

I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write features stories for the Wadena Pioneer Journal. The weekly newspaper is owned by Forum Communications Co.
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